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Med Hypotheses. 2008;70(1):43-51. Epub 2007 Jun 22.

Rationale for diagnosing deficiency of ChEs and for applying exogenous HuChEs to the treatment of diseases.

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Recent evidence strongly demonstrates that acetylcholine (ACh) is not only involved in the function of the central and peripheral nervous systems, including the parasympathetic and somatic systems, but also acts as a ubiquitous cell signaling molecule or cytotransmitter, and as a hormone with paracrine, juxtacrine and autocrine properties. This active molecule exerts versatile and potent functions primarily through its specific nicotinic and muscarinic receptors (nAChRs and mAChRs, respectively). These functions modulate numerous biomechanisms, including cell growth, survival, proliferation and differentiation, cell-cell contact, cell cycle, locomotion, electrical activity, immune function, apoptosis, organization of the cytoskeleton, trophic functions, secretion, adhesion, resorption, and stress-response-regulation. By nature, the precise ACh levels and responses from receptors must be controlled and regulated by its degrading enzymes, the cholinesterases (ChEs), namely, acetylcholinesterase (AChE) and butyrylcholinesterase (BChE). Once ChEs become critically deficient in quality and quantity, ACh signaling will be uncontrollably aberrant and persistent. An in-depth account of the fundamental roles of ChEs, comprising their diverse soluble and membrane-bound forms, in maintaining the functional equilibrium of ACh in the macro and microenvironment has been undertaken. This work also covers ACh receptors, signaling pathways, other interdependent and interrelated substances, functional processes, role of ChEs as first-line gatekeepers and defenses for the architecture of cells, tissues and organisms, physically, chemically, and structurally. The mechanisms of many diseases ranging from the acute cholinergic crisis to the chronic degenerative and hypergenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, cancers, atopic dermatitis, may involve a deficiency of ChEs or imbalance between ACh and ChEs, initially or consequentially. It is therefore essential to ascertain a ChE deficiency, or an imbalance between ACh and ChEs, in tissues and body fluids in order for conducting clinical diagnosis, prevention and treatment. An argument is put forward on the rationale of applying exogenous human ChEs to reverse enzymatic deficiency and correct the imbalance between ACh and ChEs, to repair the affected receptors and protect against their further loss in the body, and consequently to alleviate the signs and symptoms of diseases. Evidence is adduced for the safety and efficacy of ChEs treatment.

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